Presenting author: Michael Whelan
Presenting author biography:
Michael (he/him) is a Health Educator at Thorne Harbour Health working on programs supporting the sexual health wellbeing of gay, bu, and other queer men - including sexually adventurous men who use drugs, overseas born men, and heterosexually identified MSM.
Of Ice and Men: Peer led outreach aimed at reducing AoD harms at Melbourne dance parties
Trough X dance parties held at a sex-on-premises venue (SOPV) in Melbourne saw a dramatic increase in the number of ambulance call outs to roughly 10 a night, for patrons experiencing acute adverse side effects from the use alcohol and other drugs (AoD), in particular methamphetamines and GHB.
Club80 was a sex-on-premises venue located in Melbourne, Australia. The venue was a three-storey building with cinema rooms, casual social areas, private rooms with sex focused equipment and furniture. Patrons would pay a cover fee for entry into the Tough X party.
Club80 approached Thorne Harbour Health (THH) and Harm Reduction Victoria (HRV) to respond to the negative drug related experiences occurring at Trough X. A collaborative outreach program co-delivered AOD and STI harm reduction, brief interventions, and responded to those experiencing acute drug-related issues. THH and HRV staff created a dedicated chillout space where attendees could be triaged and assessed based on their acute experiences. Information and support was provided to patrons in this chillout space. ‘Rovers’ in fluorescent safety vests would move throughout the venue to identify anyone in need and escort them to the chillout space. The rovers would display posters throughout the venue calling on patrons to seek them out if they saw someone having an acute reaction to their AoD use. In addition, security staff would contact the rovers to attend to someone within the venue when needed.
Over a 5-year period, the project was active at 20 Trough events. The number of ambulance call outs reduced to 1-2 per event, and on average 30 people per event received brief interventions, after which they could return to the party or organise transportation home safely. Reports of negative experiences from security reduced significantly due to the rover’s presence.